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Student's Passion Leads to Expansion of NOVA's Esports Program

Student's Passion Leads to Expansion of NOVA's Esports Program

In celebration of Women’s History Month, NOVA is highlighting one of our Esports athletes. Madison Davidson prefers to be called Maddie! Starting at a very early age, she's been super passionate about gaming and all things computers--particularly computer science. 

When Maddie started at NOVA in fall 2022, little did she know she would quickly break new ground in the esports gaming world at NOVA, and that she would become the captain of the college’s newly established women's esports team called "Nighthawks Valorant Violet." 

According to NOVA Esports Head Coach John O’Neil, there are less than ten women's esports teams at colleges and universities, nationwide. 

Already Maddie has found herself in the esports spotlight! The NJCAAE is the national sports conference for community colleges. In December 2022, the NJCAAE's esports division took an interest in Maddie and placed her in the "Player Spotlight." Read Maddie’s NJCAAE “Player Spotlight” story here. Maddie is one of only about ten esports players interviewed by NJCAAE each semester, said Coach O'Neil.

Esports is a fast-growing and enormously popular phenomenon! It is competitive video gaming. Instead of watching a physical team at a sporting event, you are watching video gamers competing. At colleges, the popularity of esports is rising rapidly. 

Not only is Maddie attending NOVA as part of NOVA’s Esports program, but she also holds down a part-time job. Learn more about Maddie in her own words:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:
I will be turning 19 in April and have lived in Loudoun County my entire life! I have had a thing for technology and video games starting at around age five, where my dad and I played lots of Call of Duty together! 

He inspired me, and he is the one who brought me into the world of technology and video games! My father is incredibly proud of my accomplishments at NOVA and is encouraging about my future plans. He never got the chance to pursue a college education, so he is ecstatic for me to get the opportunity to do great things post-university!

I enjoy relaxing and playing video games with friends without worrying about all the stressors of life. I'm passionate about the designing process and taught myself 3D modeling. Also, I love graphic design and video editing, which I use to design my own content for my Twitch (live streaming) channel.

I hope to be a bright and open person for anyone to talk to, and I love to take time out of my day to help friends or strangers. 

What brought you to NOVA? 
I am studying at NOVA because it's more affordable and for the personal connections I can access with professors and resources. NOVA has smaller class sizes, which allows more one-on-one engagement and feedback through the classwork and student progress!

NOVA offers easily transferrable courses to make any transfer to a higher institution effortless, especially with guaranteed admissions.

What are you studying at NOVA? 
I am currently studying a general engineering curriculum with a lot of my electives being related to computer science. I plan on transferring to Virginia Tech for computer science through VCCS guaranteed admissions.

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you've liked and friends you've met. 
My first semester at NOVA wasn't too crazy. I personally loved taking Cristina Boicu's CSC-222 course. Her feedback and love for her students were awesome and made my 8 a.m. class so much more bearable! 

I joined the NOVA Esports program last semester and have made tons of friends in the community as well. I'm the manager for the Valorant Esports teams. It means that I'm not only a player but also helping NOVA's Esports program. As the manager, every week, I find scrimmages against other schools, organize practices and find new events for teams to play.

I am the captain of NOVA's new, women's-only team. Our women's team won our first preseason match on Jan. 23 and is currently 3-0. The matches are up on the NOVA Nighthawks Twitch page: https://www.twitch.tv/novanighthawks.

The women’s team is just one of many teams in the NOVA Esports program! It is really refreshing to have some female faces around. The team has had a lot of fun getting to know one another! So far, we are all very grateful to have an inclusive and distinct group and have already become so close as a team!

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA? 
A few things I could tell someone coming to NOVA is to take it easy. The College provides many resources to allow you to take your time and get the best out of your learning. Not every professor will be your cup of tea, but you'll work past that and come out on top. Sometimes self-teaching is the best type of learning you will ever get!

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring? 
I am attending NOVA as an Engineering A.S., with the goal of transferring to Virginia Tech for computer science in the fall of 2024. 

After NOVA, I hope to gain internships throughout my remaining two years at Virginia Tech to gain a step into the computer science world--more specifically, I’m aiming at programming development. Also, I’d like to minor in criminal justice in the hopes of joining the FBI. 

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.